Stretched and sprawled magnificently 240 metres above sea-level, Udi Hills is the biggest tourist attraction in the South-Eastern Nigeria State of Enugu. It is not surprising that it attracts visitors from all over the world as it is a vantage point that provides a picturesque view of the ancient Enugu city.
Providing a backdrop for Enugu Town, the State’s capital, it is a chain of hills broken up by streams and rivulets feeding the Benue and Niger rivers. It is the perfect hill for a hiker, history buff or adventurer. Tourists can also sink their feet in the white sands that have washed down from the hills to form an idyllic riverbed.
Udi Hills is very important to tourism in Nigeria because besides providing aesthetic value, it is also very is rich in history, and is credited for bringing about the development of Enugu. In 1908, the Udi Hills attracted a British expedition team on its way from Awka to the Middle Belt, and when they reported back to the government in Lagos, a team was sent to mine the area for silver. In 1909, Mr. Kikson, a British Mining Engineer, found a large coal reserve in the Udi ridge and a team of mining engineers, led by W. J. Leck, arrived the area in 1914 to open up a coal mine along with a team of labourers under the headship of Alfred Inoma of Onitsha. Commercial mining began in 1915. Thus, Enugu began to grow till it formally became a town in 1917.
Till date, at the foot of the hills are the old coal mines and coal workers’ camp which used to provide the resource Enugu State is famous for. These mines and camp are still open as tourist attractions.
In Enugu, Udi Hills is said to play “a prominent role as it appears to hold the coal city in the crock of its arm, shielding her western and northern approaches”.
There are villages on the hills, including Nkwe, Ezere, Awgunta and Newenta. The people of the area have, for hundreds of years, preserved the caves and stone hedges in the area.